INCREDIBLES 2

Superhero and comic book films sure are such a big drag nowadays aren’t they? Sure, you get the occasional outlier like The Dark Knight or Logan that breaks the mold, but for the most part, they all feel the same. This is exactly how people felt back in 2004 during the start of the big comic book movie boom. With films like X-MenSpider-ManDaredevil, and Hulk, people were starting to feel that all of these movies feel kind of the same, regardless of their quality. Who knew that it would come down to Disney, Pixar, and Brad Bird to come around to show them all how it’s done? Well, they’re returning 14 years later to show us all how it’s done once again. Can they pull it off?

Taking place directly after the events of the original, Incredibles 2 has the superhero family attempting to stop the evil Underminder. Their pursuit ends up doing more harm than good, causing a lot of destruction to the city. This causes the authorities to outlaw superheroes for good, causing the Parr family to revert back completely to their normal family life. Helen aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is then recruited by the entrepreneurial Deavor siblings to come back to fighting crime in order to show the world it still needs supers. However, her time away from home causes friction, as Bob (Craig T. Nelson) tries to keep the family at home from falling apart. 

It’s a common opinion I’ve seen shared that The Incredibles is one of the best superhero films and I’m inclined to agree. Although it’s not based off any pre-existing material, it perfectly captures the tone and spirit of its many comic book influences while still being its own thing. That same success is captured in this sequel, being a fun send-up of superhero films, all while telling its own story. While this film takes place directly after the original, it took 14 years to come out, but it doesn’t feel like a beat is missed. Aside from the obviously improved animation and Craig T. Nelson’s aged voice, it feels like it could have come out in 2007. It helps that the incredibly talented writer/director Brad Bird returned and claimed he would only make the sequel if it was better than the original. So, is it better?

Well, I wouldn’t say it’s better, but it’s definitely nearly as good. I rewatched the original before seeing this one and I forgot just how great it really was. It was fresh and fun, and like most sequels, that novelty is sort of lost in the new one. The first one is about Bob learning that his family is more important than saving the world, and then the family learning to embrace their powers and work together as a real team. This one basically follows the same story beats, instead with Helen being the main focus of the story. While she’s out saving the world, Bob is stuck at home to take care of all of the family duties. This further develops their family dynamic, showing just how much they all need each other to succeed in cleaning up the city, or just cleaning the house. The fact that these returning voice actors (save for Dash, played by a new kid) so effortlessly ease back into roles they haven’t played in 14 years just shows how well defined their characters and roles are. As the first film showed, all of those themes work, and they definitely work here. It’s just we’ve seen it all before. While these characters and the world are still a lot of fun, the fact that it’s basically the first film but flipped make it feel a tad bit stale.

Although the plot structure feels a bit recycled (a common negative in basically any Pixar sequel), that same amount of creativity and passion still bursts through the seams in every frame. One of the biggest hurdles that a lot of modern superhero films face is ensuring that all of the special effects don’t come across as phony. When your entire film is animated, you don’t need to worry about that. The sky’s the limit when your entire film is made on a computer, giving completely consistent aesthetics. One exciting sequence has Helen chasing a runaway train on her “Elasticycle”, which breaks apart in two, allowing her to all sorts of crazy stunts. Stretching powers have always come across as a C-tier superpower, so seeing it used this creatively was a lot of fun to see. There’s not just her and the family, but a whole host of other heroes with neat powers for the filmmakers to have a lot of fun with.  

Even though it doesn’t reach the same heights as the original, Incredibles 2 is still a more than worthy successor to one of Pixar’s finest films. The fact that a sequel made 14 years after the fact is this good is impressive enough. You can tell Brad Bird is very passionate about these characters he created, but I hope from here he decides to focus on other endeavors. As Ratatouille and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol showed, he’s one of the best blockbuster filmmakers working today and he deserves to continue stretching his wings with other projects. Regardless, you don’t have to look very far in order to see some of the most fun, heartfelt, inventive, and exhilarating superhero action that’s been delivered all summer. 

8.5/10

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